Four new shopping trends that have emerged in China after Covid

Covid has changed the way that customers choose to shop in the West and in China alike. But although patterns of shopping have changed in both markets, they have changed in different ways.

As a Western brand looking to build your presence in China, it’s important to understand what these changes make to the ways that you market to your target Chinese audience. With that in mind, here are four new shopping trends that have emerged in China after Covid:

1. A drive towards online shopping

Chinese social media users have described a trend towards ‘revenge consumption’, which seems to have been backed up by online shopping figures. experienced a 74% year-on-year transaction volume this year for its 618 grand promotion which is the country’s biggest summer shopping festival.

Certainly, there has a big drive toward online shopping. When Covid broke out during Chinese New Year, shops had to close so customers headed online. E-commerce in China has long been highly evolved with sophisticated logistics and supply chains, so customers could easily buy their essentials during lockdown, In fact, from January to April this year, China’s online shopping hit $360 billion in value. The migration to online shopping has persisted long after lockdown, and analysts believe that the pandemic’s restrictions saw customer online shopping habits jump by up to two years. This is particularly the case in categories such as groceries, with JD Super, the online supermarket, seeing a 100% total sales increase compared to day one of 618 the previous year.

2. Younger consumers taking on family responsibilities

Young people have driven lockdown shopping as they are naturally savvier when it comes to using digital technology. Young people also took on more responsibility during lockdown and began shopping for necessities for their entire family, rather than just themselves. When young people left major cities to go home to their lower-tier cities, they also encouraged their families to begin to shop online and by doing so help to help brands reach a foothold in lower-tier city markets.

3. Livestream and community group buying lead the way

Social distancing led to a boost in social e-commerce and live streaming in particular, helping local businesses and international brands both grow their sales. The closure of high street stores and travel restrictions didn’t dampen China’s love of big global brands – customers head online to interact with their favourite luxury brands online, and these businesses used sales, promotions and celebrity partnerships to retain loyalty. PORTS, the Canadian fashion brand, hosted a 9-hour live stream on JD, featuring Elle magazine’s fashion editor and various celebrities. The live stream was visited by 1.3 million customers and the brand took over $1.4 million in sales that day.

4. New trends in desired product features

Customers are now more cautious about their purchase decisions and keen to buy products which are good value for money, comfortable, sustainable and – increasingly – customised. Customers are still interested in products for the home, but also clothing and health and wellbeing products. Demand for pet products is also still high, and there is a particularly big trend for bikes in post-Covid China.

Brands are also finding other product category developments. For example, sales of eye make-up remained high over lockdown but lipstick sales went down because of the mask mandate. But as masks become less conspicuous, lipstick sales are growing once again, and there is also a growing resurgence in international travel as borders open up once again.

What do new Chinese shopping trends mean for Western brands? So what does this mean for Western marketers? Here are some things to consider and invest in:

1. Revisit your market research

Good market research is the cornerstone of all successful Chinese marketing campaigns. But the speed of change since the Covid pandemic means that your data may well need updating. Are you up to speed with your Gen Z customers’ love of personalisation? Do you know what your Millennial customers want from eco-friendly and sustainable brands? What about their parents? If you have gaps in data or haven’t tested your data since the pandemic, then now is a great time to invest in some target Chinese market research. Good research invariably informs better decisions and the ROI can be powerful.

2. Check your channels

Yes, Chinese social media platforms such as WeChat and Sina Weibo are still hugely important to brands, but there are other niche Chinese social media platforms gaining traction, particularly for certain topics and audiences. It may be time to review which ones you are using – and how. For example, are you using livestreaming? Are you partnering with the right KOL?

3. Review your content strategy

Chinese customers are keen for reassurance after the pandemic, and this is very similar to trends seen in the West. Brands can anticipate this and plan around it. For example, travel brands can promote their safety practices, educational institutions can talk about their pastoral care offer and student support, and consumer goods can describe how their products are of high quality, and made in a way that supports the environment.

A Chinese marketing agency can help you to get these elements correct in the post-Covid world. As ever, success lies in getting the fundamentals right, with regular checks and resets as needed to steer your marketing plan in the right direction. We currently recommend to our clients that they consider refreshing their market research to update their customer profiles, review their channels and content strategies to see what is working and what might need adjusting, and reestablish their goals for this new and exciting post-Covid era in China. After all, the Chinese economy is rebounding strongly, Chinese customers are keen to shop and enjoy life again, and Western brands have a huge opportunity to grow successful, strong brands in China if they use the right strategies.

Contact us today

To better understand Chinese marketing trends in the post-Covid world and to position your brand for success with the right digital marketing strategy, please contact Market Me China. Our team of native language speakers and digital marketing professionals have the expertise, insights and skills that you need for success and we take real pride in helping our clients to achieve excellent results. We work with our clients on a flexible basis according to their needs and have an excellent track record. We look forward to hearing from you!